A day after Suvendu's resignation as minister, speculations rife over his next move

Last Updated 28 November 2020, 20:06 IST

Amid speculations over the next move of senior Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari, the BJP on Saturday said that the party is in touch with him while the TMC was hopeful about reopening dialogue with its disgruntled functionary.

Adhikari stepped down from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet in which he was the minister in charge of transport, waterways and irrigation on Friday, and his resignation was accepted by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. He, however, did not quit the party or resign as an MLA.

All eyes are now at Adhikari's scheduled meeting at Mahisadal in Purba Medinipur district on Sunday afternoon.

The BJP, which is elated over the rumblings in the TMC, said it is in touch with Adhikari, but nothing has been decided as of now regarding his joining the party.

Adhikari, they said, is on good terms with some of the saffron camp leaders but talks regarding his conditions for joining the party are yet to begin.

The BJP is, however, hopeful that he would switch sides as it feels that he has "few options left", a senior BJP leader said.

"We have to wait for a few more days to have a clear picture," the leader said on condition of anonymity.

"After resigning as a minister, it will be tough for Adhikari to continue in the TMC. So the options before him are either to float a new party or join the BJP or the Congress," he said.

"It takes a lot of money and human resource to float a new political outfit, which we don't think is possible for him at this juncture," he said.

Adhikari's option to join the Congress is less as the party is weak in West Bengal and "so the only option left is the BJP, which we think is the most beneficial proposition for both of us," he said.

Meanwhile, TMC MP Saugata Roy who, along with fellow MP Sudip Bandopadhyay, was tasked by the party top brass to hold parleys with Adhikari over his grievances, expressed hope that there will be talks between the two sides.

"Doors are still open for talks with Suvendu. There should be discussions with him. I am hopeful of dialogue between Suvendu and the party leadership," Roy said when asked about retaining the mass leader in the party.

"Suvendu's mother is ill, so the talks may have to wait till she gets well," said Roy, who also enjoys a cordial relationship with Adhikari's father and Kanthi MP Sisir Kumar Adhikari.

Two rounds of dialogues between Adhikari and Roy had remained inconclusive.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee will start his district tour from December 7, with a rally in Purba Medinipur considered to be a stronghold of the Adhikari family.

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh claimed that TMC MLAs have lost faith in Banerjee and her government would soon become minority in the assembly as many more legislators would make a beeline to quit the party.

"Didi (Banerjee) has failed in disaster management of the state and now is busy with the disaster management of the party," he said.

Referring to an emergency meeting at the residence of the chief minister after Suvendu Adhikari's resignation, Ghosh said that such meetings will be more frequent as many others have lined up to join BJP.

Meanwhile, three TMC party offices were allegedly captured by the BJP at Khejuri in Purba Medinipur district, a day after the resignation of the Adhikari.

District BJP leaders said none of their activists was involved in the incidents.

Adhikari was said to be unhappy over organisational changes in the TMC and the growing clout of election strategist Prashant Kishor and Banerjee's nephew Abhishek, the Lok Sabha MP from Diamond Harbour, in the decision-making process of the government. Sources said that Adhikari's exit from the cabinet on Friday is seen as a prelude to the severing of his two- decade-old association with the TMC right form its inception in 1988.

The TMC leadership, which had initiated backchannel talks with him, has now decided to adopt a "wait and watch" approach and will not initiate any further discussions from their end to address his grievances, sources in the party said.

Apart from his home district of Purba Medinipur, Adhikari has influences in 40-45 assembly segments in tribal Jangalmahal area comprising the districts of Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram and parts of Birbhum and minority-dominated Murshidabad districts.

This assumes significance as polls in the state, where BJP has made deep inroads, is due in April-May 2021 and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will seek to return to power for the third consecutive term.

(Published 28 November 2020, 20:06 IST)

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